Glacial Flood May Have Begun at Grímsvötn Volcano

There are indications that a glacial flood may have begun at Grímsvötn volcano under the Vatnajökull ice cap in Southeast Iceland, RÚV reports. Chief Superintendent of South Iceland police Oddur Árnason confirmed that police have been advised about the likeliness that a jökulhlaup is underway, but currently, the only solid data to confirm this is that GPS devices are registering changes in land elevation surrounding the volcano.

Finnur Pálsson, an engineer at the University of Iceland’s Earth Sciences Institute, oversees the measurements taken at Grímsvötn. Glacial meltwater collects in a subglacial lake and caldera in Grímsvötn’s core, both of which are covered by an ice cap. The water level of the lake rises slowly but surely, until finally, it overflows in a glacial flood. Finnur said that measurements showed the water levels under the volcano shifting by several centimetres yesterday but they’ve been stable ever since. In June, the water level of the subglacial lake was rising three centimetres a day in June, indicating that a flood could be imminent in coming weeks or months. Glacial floodwaters from Grímsvötn tend to run into the Gígjukvísl river and usually reach their apex within two to five days.

See Also: Evidence that Grímsvötn Volcano is Preparing for Next Eruption

Finnur says that it’s currently uncertain whether there are some inaccuracies in the data, or if a glacial flood truly has begun. As such, the area will be closely monitored today and for the next 24 hours. If a glacial flood has begun, it would take a considerable amount of time for the floodwaters to reach settled areas.

At time of writing, the Icelandic Met Office was convening a meeting regarding the possible event and Civil Protection had also been in touch with local authorities. Police stations in the district have been informed, but no preparations had been undertaken yet.

See Also: Largest Volcanic Eruption in Grímsvötn in 100 Years

Grímsvötn is the most active volcano in Iceland and has erupted as many as 100 times since the time of Iceland’s settlement, and 13 times since 1902. It is part of a volcanic system that is over 100 km long and extends down to the Laki craters. Grímsvötn last erupted in 2011—the volcano’s largest eruption in 140 years.

A glacial flood at Grímsvötn can trigger a volcanic eruption. Although these eruptions can be strong, the primary side effect has usually been disruptions to air traffic. If there is an eruption of Grímsvötn in coming days or weeks, scientists say it is unlikely to be as big as the one in 2011.

Over One Hundred Infections Linked to Same Group Infection

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There have been 127 domestic infections diagnosed with COVID-19 since June 15, including six cases that were diagnosed on Wednesday. RÚV reports that 120 of the infections have the same virus mutation and have, therefore, been connected to the same group infection that emerged at the end of July.

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason says that authorities have not yet managed to connect more than 30 clusters of infections. “This virus often causes little to no symptoms and it can be very difficult and it can be very difficult to find one individual who has infected two, unconnected individuals. It can be really tricky and I’m not sure how it’s going to work out.”

One man in his thirties was on a ventilator in intensive care but has now improved enough to be transferred to a general ward.

Three of the six people who were diagnosed on Wednesday were already in quarantine. All of these individuals are located within the capital area, except for one who is in the Westman Islands. A child under the age of five is among the group.

Virology staff to transfer to deCode to stay ahead of sample analysis

After this weekend, 18 employees from the National University Hospital’s virology department will move to deCode Genetics, where samples taken at the border will be analyzed, among others. deCode has better equipment for analyzing large batches of COVID-19 tests. Meanwhile, the virology department will continue to analyze samples from hospitals and health centres from outside the capital area. The virology department currently only has one machine to conduct sample analysis, but a model of the exact same make will arrive from Denmark this week. A much more powerful machine, which can process 4,000 samples will arrive in November.

Thirty-Hour Hot Water Shutdown Throughout Capital Area Next Week

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Large parts of the capital area will be without hot water for 30 hours in the coming week due to construction work being undertaken by utility company Veitur. RÚV reports that the service suspension will affect roughly 50,000 residents.

Veitur PR rep Ólöf Snæhólm Baldursdóttir said that hot water service will be suspended in order to make infrastructural changes: new neighbourhood developments need to receive their hot water from power plants rather than boreholes in Mosfellsbær and Reykjavík in order to reduce strain on the latter.

Hot water will be shut off starting at 2 am on Tuesday morning until 9 am on Wednesday morning.

The shutdown will affect the following areas:

  • All of the town of Hafnarfjörður
  • In Garðabær, the neighbourhood of Urriðaholt, the Kauptún shopping plaza, as well as the streets of Suðurhraun, Austurhraun, Norðurhraun, and Miðhraun, Holtsbúð, and all streets whose names end in -lundur
  • In Kópavogur, the outage will affect most of neighbourhoods Lindahverfi and Salahverfi; in Vatnsendi, it will affect streets that end in -kór, -þing, and -hvarf
  • In Reykjavík, the outage will impact the neighbourhood of Norðlingaholt

Ólöf said that business and service entities such as nursing homes, pools, hair salons, and food producers were informed several weeks ago of the coming shutdown. She advises that people in need of a shower turn to local pools and gyms in areas where the hot water supply is still in working order.

With Bars Closing Early, Police Receiving More Noise Complaints

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Capital-area police have received nearly three times the number of noise complaints this summer as they did three years ago, Vísir reports. Chief Superintendent Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson credits the jump to an increase in house parties now that downtown bars are required to close at 11 pm, as opposed to their pre-COVID last call of 4 am.

“If bars and clubs are closed, it’s to be expected that people will do more at home and there will be more parties and things like that,” said Ásgeir Þór.

According to statistics provided by police, in 2017, there were a total of 1,363 noise complaints. In 2018, there were 1,635 noise call outs; there were 1,612 in 2019. By comparison, in just the first seven months of this year, police have already received almost the exact same number as they did for the whole of 2017: 1,349.

Most of the call outs are for noise inside residences (versus for people gathered outdoors). Just considering the summer months, there has been a steady increase in noise complaints over the years. There were 300 noise complaints from May to July 2017, 480 in 2018, and 523 in 2019. Looking at a slightly truncated period this year—May to June—there were 825 complaints, 288 for outdoor noise and 537 for noise indoors.

Ásgeir Þór urged people to be as understanding as possible. “These call-outs to homes…even if someone sleeps an hour less, it generally won’t cause them lasting harm,” he noted. “So the police are just fine with this trade-off, if there are fewer assaults but more call-outs for noise in residences, so long as there’s nothing else to it.”